View Full Version : Coffee Still

12-21-2008, 01:55 PM

Title: Coffee Still
Year Created:
Medium: Oil
Surface: Canvas
Dimension: 8" x 10"
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

The paint was still wet on this one so there is a bit of a 'glare' on the coffee.

I am wondering about the composition and the choice of colours. I am starting to explore setting up my own still life's and exploring composition. Also, I started out with a warm background (orange) but then changed to blue. Was this a good choice?

12-21-2008, 02:06 PM
I love the drama of extreme values, so I'm sold on this. I think the blue b/g works well to draw attention to the warm gold of the coffee & spoon reflections. I think however, I'd want to enlarge the saucer to swallow those dark areas in the bottom corners. They are definitely fighting for my attention. Nice job!

12-21-2008, 03:28 PM
Beautifully done! I agree that the background blue pushes the warm tones of the coffee. I am not sure that the corners formed by the saucer are a problem.
CHIA certainly 'knows her stuff'...but I like the continued statement of saucer. If it is framed it is of no consequence as the frame will cover those corners anyway. Which brings me to my point; It is a common mistake to paint as if there were to be no frame. Many of course like to hang the raw canvas, but most I think purchase a painting in frame or with the thought of being framed. If that is done with this it is going to cut through the handle of the cup. To me that is a visual detriment, to what is otherwise quite a 'stunning' little work of art. On the other hand we have the spoon itself being truncated. In this case it may well lead us to a realization and acceptance of the compositional closeup. (AISI)

12-21-2008, 03:52 PM
Hi Chia: Thanks for looking. I see what you say about the corners... I originally tried not putting in the corners and the plate seemed like it was missing something. I think, for my next one, I'll pick a slightly different perspective... perhaps not so dead on for the plate. Thanks for the suggestion!

Hi Corby: sigh... I suppose it is that 'kissing' effect for me again. My plans for framing on this one was a canvas frame that doesn't overlap the canvas just because of the handle. There is a great sale on frames at my art store on boxing day and I'll pick one up then and see what it looks like. Would it have been better to have more of the handle off the canvas or less? I can always use coffee and have no problems setting up this still life again ;)

12-21-2008, 04:28 PM
Hi Madelaine! I think a general rule for framed pieces that works well is to leave an inch or two around the edge of the painting where no portion of a major image goes into that area. The loss of image to a standard frame is 1/4th inch per side. I would not be concerned about the cup handle on this. Before you buy a frame and end up not liking what it does visually just lay a straightedge one fourth inch in along your painting on that side and see what it does to the handle. I am thinking that with the corner saucer edges and the spoon handle, as a whole , it will come together!

I keep what I call 'working frames' on hand, and at the appropriate point (it varies) I put what I am working on 'in frame' for an approximate view of finished work. These frames are not artistic or decorative statements. They are just nondescript and neutral in nature so as not to influence what I am doing with the painting itself.

12-21-2008, 06:48 PM
Wonderful highlights in this. My vote is to mat it to chop off more of the handle. As the picture stands, it looks like one of those "uh oh" moments where you found yourself running out of room on the right side. So, I'd make it seem intentional and cover more of the handle. Just my preference.

12-22-2008, 01:47 AM
i enjoyed your painting. i have often felt the same emotions while pondering over my own cup of coffee, and it appears as it does in your painting. the metal of the spoon is well rendered and the reflection on it and the cup serve well to bring interest around. This is a successful painting as is.

my only critique is this. this is an austere painting with very sharp curves and lines to lead the eyes. With such in mind, every out of round curve or unstraight line really pops and detracts from your goal. ie the top of the coffee cup at 2 oclock and the perspective of the liquid coffee at 11 oclock is a bit too high.

12-22-2008, 08:25 AM
The colors are fine and it's well rendered.
There are many good ideas above.
You're a good painter. To get to the next level, I'd suggest that you pay more attention to the shape and direction of your brush strokes. On this forum, check out the work of KTusa and watch how the direction and shape of the brush strokes imply the flow of light. Also check out Center of Attention by Tali and see how she lets the strokes do the modelling for her.

12-22-2008, 09:30 AM
Great colors, and subject. Really beautifully done. The spoon is excellent as is the texture of the cup.

I have one minor comment. Maybe a hint of the ridge that the cup sits in on the saucer? The shadows of the cup seem to indicate it's sitting in a deep bowl like structure. Not sure if I'm explaining this right, but it may be a minor issue.

Anyway, really like it a lot.